By Marc Weems
With another key player being out against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (15-6, 7-3 Horizon League), Youngstown State University (7-14, 3-7 HL) would look to play that adversity. Center Mary Dunn suffered an ankle injury early in their game against the University of Wisconsin- Green Bay.
To start the game YSU’s biggest issue was their inability to control the offensive glass and the paint. Just like the Green Bay, Milwaukee’s size became a bit of an issue for the Penguins without Dunn.
Milwaukee led 11-7 with 4:26 left in the first quarter. Alison Smolinski had a quick five points.
Milwaukee led 18-15 after the first quarter as Morgan Olson hit a layup as time expired. Smolinski still led the Penguins with five points while Sierra Ford-Washington led all scorers with 7 points to go with four rebounds.
“We just gotta go out there and work as hard as we can,” Olson said. “We can’t have foul trouble like we had in these situations but we have to play through it.”
After YSU took the 21-20 lead on an Indiya Benjamin floater, Milwaukee proceeded to go on a 13-0 run to give them a 33-21 lead with 1:41 left in the second quarter. YSU bridged the gap with their own 5-0 run which cut the deficit to 33-26 in favor of Milwaukee at halftime.
Kostowicz led all scorers with 13 points to go with four rebounds. Olson and Smolinski led the Penguins with eight points apiece.
In the third quarter, Milwaukee and YSU went bucket for bucket without YSU making up ground. Milwaukee led YSU 44-35 with 4:47 left in the quarter. YSU’s attack was led by Olson who scored five points early in the quarter.
YSU’s biggest struggle was yet again being outscored in the paint as Milwaukee had a 26-12 advantage in that department at that point of the game.
“Our size makes it hard to keep them out of the paint,” YSU head coach John Barnes said. “They did a really good job getting in there. We are doing all we could to keep them out of the paint.”
Morgan Brunner missed a layup that led to an easy layup by Milwaukee’s Jenny Lindner as time expired to give the Panthers a 51-43 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Olson led YSU with 15 points and four rebounds. Kostowicz led Milwaukee with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Barnes also said that having some crucial turnovers and missed layups like Brunner’s made it hard to come back.
More of the same happened in the fourth quarter as Milwaukee kept their distance from YSU as they led 60-52 with 4:34 left in the game. Olson led all scorers with 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting.
“Without her [Olson] offensively, we have would have grinded to a halt,” Barnes said about Morgan Olson. “I thought she did a good job of posting up and making strong moves.”
With just under 1:30 left in the game— YSU hit back-to-back threes on consecutive possessions. Olson and Smolinski both nailed threes to cut the lead to 68-61.
After a few mad free throws from Milwaukee, YSU’s Morgan Brunner also got in on the action as she hit a three to pull YSU to a 71-66 deficit.
“I think we all just needed to step up,” Smolinski said. “It sucks that we only step up when we are down but we need to start doing that throughout that game.
YSU was able to cut the lead down to 78-74 but that’s where the game would end. Milwaukee won 78-74.
“We were just trying to push hard and come back,” Olson said about cutting the lead. “A lot of these games, we’ve been in holes and had to fight to get back into the game. We just need to play every minute as hard as the last.”
Barnes also said that everything now is trial and error— If someone plays well they get more minutes and that’s the way he said the season is being approached.